The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series visits New Hampshire Motor Speedway this weekend, and Sunday’s Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 will be the first flat track race since Pocono and the first flat track on a smaller track since Richmond back in April.
New Hampshire has been known to throw fantasy owners the occasional curveball over the years. Passing is tough, so you will see pit strategy come into play, and the weather has been an issue in the past. That being said, I still plan to stay on the aggressive side this weekend in Fantasy Live and the Driver Group Game.
Last year, six drivers earned points in both Stage 1 and Stage 2 at New Hampshire, and in the fall race, nine drivers earned points in both stages. All nine of those drivers also finished in the Top 15, sweeping the first six spots. In other words, drivers with fast cars ran up front most of the race and finished there.
Yes, there is a slightly elevated chance that pit strategy could jumble things up, but I’d rather take my chances with the big names who have the best chances of posting big scores than guessing at which midrange drivers will catch a caution or stretch their fuel and steal a few stage points.
For Slingshot Fantasy Auto, I’m going to try to take advantage of several upper-tier drivers who qualified outside the Top 10, including a few who qualified in the middle of the pack. There are at least three drivers who I feel have a realistic chance to challenge for a Top 5 finish and gain around 15 spots in the process, and I plan to own all of them, even if it means rounding out my roster with a no-upside punt play.
Check out all my season-long Fantasy NASCAR picks for Sunday’s Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 at New Hampshire, and make sure to lock in all of your lineups before the green flag.
NASCAR.com Fantasy Live
He has piled up eight Top 10s in the last 10 races at New Hampshire, finishing third or better six times in that span. Busch is no stranger to running up front here, and last year, he led at least 95 laps in both races. More importantly, he finished in the Top 5 in all four stages in those races, picking up a pair of stage wins. After qualifying third, I expect Busch to pile up the stage points again this weekend.
Martin Truex Jr.
Truex has led more than 100 laps in each of the last four races at New Hampshire, and last year, he finished in the Top 5 in both races at the track. More importantly, he earned at least five points in all four stages between the two races, picking up a pair of stage wins. Starting on the front row with a car that topped the charts in final practice, Truex is poised for another big point total Sunday.
Although he has never finished better than ninth in five starts at New Hampshire, Blaney had two strong showing here last season. In fact, he earned points in all four stages between the two races. He’s taken a big step forward in his first season with Team Penske, and he has a top-five starting spot and posted strong practice times. I’m expecting him to have a career run at New Hampshire this weekend.
The flat tracks have been some of his best throughout his career, and New Hampshire is no exception. Over the last 10 races here, his 6.9 average finish ranks second in the series, and only Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth have scored more driver points. He qualified sixth this weekend, so he is in prime position to add to his impressive resume at the track and to pick up plenty of stage points in the process.
Hamlin can be a risky pick, but New Hampshire is one track where I’m willing to roll the dice. After all, he is the defending winner of this weekend’s race and a three-time winner here overall. He also picked up points in all four stages in the two races last year, so he was consistently near the front. Hamlin will start fourth and flexed plenty of muscle in practice. If he can just avoid stupid mistakes, he has great chance to be a Top 5 scorer in this format.
Garage Driver – Kevin Harvick
He starts on my bench just because he qualified 14th, but I fully expect Harvick to be near the front in a hurry. He has been one of the best drivers in the series all year, and he had one of the best cars in final practice, posting the second-best lap and the best 10-lap average speed.
Fantasy Racing Cheat Sheet Driver Group Game
This pick came down Busch or Martin Truex Jr. for me, but after the speed Truex showed at Kentucky last weekend, I may want to have him available for the remaining races at 1.5-mile tracks. Plus, Busch has been more consistent at New Hampshire, logging eight Top 10s and six finishes of third or better in the last 10 races here, including a dominating win in the fall race last year.
Although a 15th-place effort in qualifying wasn’t spectacular, Bowyer showed Top 10 speed in practice. He is also a two-time winner at New Hampshire, and he notched a pair of seventh-place finishes here last season. Considering how much better Bowyer has been in his second season at Stewart-Haas Racing, I’m expecting a big showing from him at one of his best tracks. I’m talking about a Top 5 finish and potentially a win.
I was hoping to take advantage of Chase Elliott’s flat track prowess, but I just didn’t see the speed from him in practice Saturday that I wanted. Instead, I’ll go with Jones. He’s been on a roll in recent weeks, and he finished sixth at New Hampshire last fall. More importantly, he starts in the Top 10 and showed borderline Top 5 speed in race trim.
He has shown some serious flat track prowess when given decent equipment. Everybody remembers his impressive performance at Phoenix in 2016 while he was subbing for Dale Earnhardt Jr., but that same year, he notched a Top 15 run at New Hampshire. Bowman will start inside the Top 10 this weekend, and he also popped up in the Top 10 in practice Saturday. His starts are valuable, but Bowman looks capable of delivering a strong finish this weekend.